WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has selected SpaceX of Hawthorne, California, to provide launch services for the agency’s Imaging X-Ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE) mission, which will allow astronomers to discover, for the first time, the hidden details of some of the most exotic astronomical objects in our universe.
The total cost for NASA to launch IXPE is approximately $50.3 million, which includes the launch service and other mission-related costs.
IXPE measures polarized X-rays from objects, such as black holes and neutron stars to better understand these types of cosmic phenomena and extreme environments.
The IXPE mission currently is targeted to launch in April 2021 on a Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A in Florida. IXPE will fly three space telescopes with sensitive detectors capable of measuring the polarization of cosmic X-rays, allowing scientists to answer fundamental questions about these turbulent environments where gravitational, electric and magnetic fields are at their limits.
NASA’s Launch Services Program at Kennedy Space Center in Florida will manage the SpaceX launch service. The IXPE project office is located at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama and is managed by the Explorers Program Office at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington.
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GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — 5:32 p.m. Eastern Time on June 18, 2019, marks 10 years since the launch of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO). Its contributions to the fields of lunar science and exploration are unmatched: it has provided the largest volume of data ever collected by a planetary science mission.
GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — NASA’s twin E-TBEx CubeSats — short for Enhanced Tandem Beacon Experiment — are scheduled to launch in June 2019 aboard the Department of Defense’s Space Test Program-2 launch. The launch includes a total of 24 satellites from government and research institutions. They will launch aboard a SpaceX Falcon Heavy from historic Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
ADELAIDE, South Australia, 31 May 2019 (Australia Space Agency PR) — NASA is looking to Australian company Equatorial Launch Australia (ELA) to conduct rocket launches.
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Wallops Flight Facility has indicated it would like to progress discussions with ELA on their 2020 sounding rocket campaign. The campaign would provide temporary southern hemisphere launch facilities for sounding rockets for scientific investigations.
The proposed launch activities fall under the Space Activities Act 1998. The amended legislation to come into effect on 31 August 2019 (the Space (Launches and Returns) Act 2018). The Australian Space Agency is responsible for administering this legislation, including the relevant licenses and permits for launch sites and launch activities.
The Agency is also currently consulting with industry on draft rules under the amended Act. Ensuring the rules are in place for space activities is a priority for the Agency.
Head of the Australian Space Agency, Dr Megan Clark AC said, “NASA’s interest in conducting a sounding rocket campaign in Australia shows the increasing importance of commercial launch activities from Australia.
“As these activities build momentum, the Agency will continue its focus on creating a supportive regulatory environment that fosters industry growth, while ensuring public safety and considering our international obligations.”
GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — On April 8, the Robotic Refueling Mission 3 (RRM3) aboard the International Space Station started experiencing issues powering up its cryogen coolers that maintain the temperature of liquid methane contained within the module. After several troubleshooting attempts, it was determined the coolers could not be powered up. As a result, the temperature of the liquid began to rise. The liquid methane turned into a gas and was safely vented from the payload. There was no impact to other station systems or operations.
While RRM3 can no longer perform a cryogenic fuel transfer, its four months on station taught NASA about the technology needed to store and transfer cryogenic fuel in space. The mission will carry out other planned operations with servicing and inspection tools. Ultimately, RRM3 will still help bring NASA closer to replenishing cryogenic fuel in space so spacecraft can live longer and journey farther into the solar system.
RRM3 launched to the space station in December 2018 and is installed to the outside of station on Express Logistics Carrier-1.
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center is lagging behind three other agency centers when it comes to transferring technology to the private sector, according to a new audit by the Office of Inspector General. [Full Report]
“Goddard…is experiencing poor technology transfer performance outcomes when compared to the other three NASA Centers we reviewed, to include a lower percentage of licenses as well as delays in processing of [New Technology Reports] and patent applications,” the audit said.
Researchers from NASA and the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland, report that streams of meteoroids striking the Moon infuse the thin lunar atmosphere with a short-lived water vapor.
The findings will help scientists understand the history of lunar water — a potential resource for sustaining long term operations on the Moon and human exploration of deep space. Models had predicted that meteoroid impacts could release water from the Moon as a vapor, but scientists hadn’t yet observed the phenomenon.
NASA needs better methods to track its efforts to minimize costs on the more than $16 billion worth of engineering and technical services the space agency purchases annually, according to a new audit by the Inspector General (IG).
“Although NASA has a variety of mechanisms at the Headquarters and Center levels to share lessons learned, many of these are informal, dependent upon personal relationships between Centers, and not focused on sharing information on efficiencies,” the audit said.
GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — A NASA spacecraft that will return a sample of a near-Earth asteroid named Bennu to Earth in 2023 made the first-ever close-up observations of particle plumes erupting from an asteroid’s surface. Bennu also revealed itself to be more rugged than expected, challenging the mission team to alter its flight and sample collection plans, due to the rough terrain.
This trio of images acquired by NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft shows a wide shot and two close-ups of a region in asteroid Bennu’s northern hemisphere. The wide-angle image (left), obtained by the spacecraft’s MapCam camera, shows a 590-foot (180-meter) wide area with many rocks, including some large boulders, and a “pond” of regolith that is mostly devoid of large rocks.
The two closer images, obtained by the high-resolution PolyCam camera, show details of areas in the MapCam image, specifically a 50-foot (15 meter) boulder (top) and the regolith pond (bottom). The PolyCam frames are 101 feet (31 meters) across and the boulder depicted is approximately the same size as a humpback whale.
The images were taken on February 25 while the spacecraft was in orbit around Bennu, approximately 1.1 miles (1.8 km) from the asteroid’s surface. The observation plan for this day provided for one MapCam and two PolyCam images every 10 minutes, allowing for this combination of context and detail of Bennu’s surface.
GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — Scientists looking for signs of life beyond our solar system face major challenges, one of which is that there are hundreds of billions of stars in our galaxy alone to consider. To narrow the search, they must figure out: What kinds of stars are most likely to host habitable planets?
GREENBELT, Md. — When NASA solicits future investigations of the Moon five teams involving scientists and engineers at the NASA Goddard Spaceflight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, will be ready.
The agency’s Development and Advancement of Lunar Instrumentation, or DALI, program recently awarded 10 teams funding to mature spacecraft-based instruments for use in future lander missions, including those offered by commercial ventures through the Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) contract. These instruments are expected to reach a high level of technology readiness by the time funding ends in three years.
GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — A new experimental type of deep space communications technology is scheduled to be demonstrated on the International Space Station this spring.
Currently, NASA relies on radio waves to send information between spacecraft and Earth. Emerging laser communications technology offers higher data rates that let spacecraft transmit more data at a time. This demonstration involves X-ray communications, or XCOM, which offers even more advantages.
A NASA technologist is taking miniaturization to the extreme.
Mahmooda Sultana won funding to advance a potentially revolutionary, nanomaterial-based detector platform. The technology is capable of sensing everything from minute concentrations of gases and vapor, atmospheric pressure and temperature, and then transmitting that data via a wireless antenna — all from the same self-contained platform that measures just two-by-three-inches in size.